Theatre review: The King’s Speech
The King’s Speech was originally written by David Seidler as a play, but was snapped up and made into a film first. The play’s finally made it to the West End stage at Wyndham’s Theatre, and it has a harder, more political edge than you might have seen at the cinema.
The play benefits from these darker moments, particularly as it does not gloss over the Nazi sympathies displayed by a number of British royals at the time. Rather than being depicted as a workshy playboy who abdicates for love, King Edward VIII is angered at being forced out by Parliament, resents his usurping younger brother, and runs off to do a deal with Hitler in the hope of regaining the throne. It also shows the wheelings and dealings of a number of opportunists who sought to gain from the perceived power struggle, from politicians to senior members of the church.
With royal scandal raging, public opinion at an all time low, and the rise of the far right in Europe as the backdrop, Prince Bertie (ably played by Charles Edwards) is under enormous pressure to ready himself to take over from his brother, in spite of his stutter and lack of self confidence. As a last ditch attempt to cure himself, he visits eccentric speech therapist Lionel Logue (Jonathan Hyde) and their arguments, moments of levity and eventual friendship are the backbone of the story.
Much of the humour comes from the culture clashes: rich and poor, British and Australian, and formal and informal approaches to life and relationships. This balance of light and dark is sustained throughout the entire production, and I have to say I prefer it to the film mainly for this reason. I should also mention the clever staging that allows scene changes to take place in a few seconds, the beautiful period costumes, and the quality of the supporting cast. It’s an excellent night out.
Edited to add: SPECIAL OFFER! For a very limited time, readers of this site can get standard tickets for The King’s Speech for £29.50 – usually these are priced at £52.50 so that’s a pretty good deal. Hurry, as this offer ends soon and once they’re gone, they’re gone. To book, simply click this link and the discount will be applied at checkout.
If you’d like to see the stars on the red carpet on the press night, it’s all on YouTube here.
Disclosure: Many thanks to AKA who gave me the chance to review the play. This site does not make any profit from the sale of discounted tickets, it’s just a special offer I thought the readers might like.
What a fantastic play! I took my dad and we enormously enjoyed our whole evening. I have seen the movie and I have to say that I greatly preferred the play. It’s such a wonderful story and the ‘cleanness’ of the play with its great delivery and acting, and with only a few characters meant the whole story just came to life. Whereas with the film I was almost distracted at times with all the surroundings and characters. I rarely just see a play – what with so many musicals around now, but that was so refreshing and so enjoyable. Truly grateful for what was a wonderful evening and I will be sure to let all my friends know they must go and see it!
Hi Sophie, glad you enjoyed it so much. It’s an excellent night out.
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